Agenda item

Public Question Time (15 Minutes)

The opportunity is given to members of the public to put questions to Cabinet Members or Committee Chairs, provided that questions do not contravene the provisions set out Council Procedure Rule 10(2).


To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to by 12 noon on Friday 7 July 2023 or telephone 01452 396203 for support.


16.1    A Gloucester resident submitted the following question:


‘When will the council stop putting displays in shop windows and actually help people and their businesses move into these empty spaces?’


16.2    The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment responded:


As a council, we continue to provide a wide range of support for our city centre, in part to encourage the use of vacant premises. Most significantly, the council is leading the £200m+ redevelopment of the kings quarter together with our partners, the University of Gloucestershire and Reef Group. This includes the city council’s £107m investment in King’s Quarter, including The Forum, King’s Square, ongoing refurbishment of Kings Walk Shopping Centre, and the Transport Interchange, which will improve that part of the city centre, attracting significant further investment to create business and job opportunities, new homes and a much better environment for users. Other Examples of ongoing support include:


1.    All vacant premises that are in council control and that are fit for occupation, are currently on the open market and we are in discussions with a number of potential tenants.

2.    We actively encourage meanwhile uses in our own units and in third party units to encourage community and cultural uses and not-for-profit organisations to take space in the city centre. We are currently working with some community based groups to take on meanwhile use spaces and others already in occupation are working with us to grow their businesses and relocate to larger / more suitable premises. An example of this is SoFab Sports currently located in Kings Walk Shopping Centre.

3.    Over the past 10 years the Council has invested heavily in the regeneration of Southgate Street and Cathedral Quarter, working with property owners to redevelop historic properties to create new retail, business and residential space. Over the past 3 years the Cathedral Quarter High Street HAZ scheme has redeveloped 14 properties alongside marketing the area to visitors and prospective businesses.


Displays in vacant shop windows play a small but useful role in improving  the appearance of the city centre, in raising awareness of cultural events and activities, and providing information to the public, for example, on the history of the city.’


16.3    A Gloucester resident submitted the following question:


‘Homelessness is, in my opinion, at an all time high - it needs to be a priority to get our citizens off the streets instead of removing their tents from them and the little belongings these individuals have. Isn’t it about time the council help with this?’


16.4    The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy responded:


‘Homelessness results from a wide range of circumstances and the relatively small number of people sleeping rough are often the most visible cohort. Gloucester City Council has a key priority to prevent homelessness, and works proactively with the other councils in the county to end rough sleeping in Gloucestershire and ensure that when it does occur it is rare, brief, and non-recurrent.


We have a range of services that support people sleeping rough and to prevent the need for people to sleep rough including that every person new to sleeping rough in the city has received an offer of accommodation. The countywide rough sleeping outreach and support service engages with individuals to identify the most appropriate housing pathway for them and where appropriate also assists with health issues and other complex needs that may prevent an individual from accessing a housing solution.


Wherever possible, we work to engage with individuals however some people visible on the street are not homeless, and also in a minority of cases individuals cause anti-social behaviour including through siting tents in inappropriate locations. Unfortunately, there are occasions where despite attempts to engage with individuals it is necessary for the council to respond appropriately to address concerns raised by members of the public and other statutory bodies. If an individual’s belongings are removed then the individual is left a note advising where they can collect their belongings.


Where a resident sees a person sleeping rough they can make a referral to Streetlink which will then pass the information to our rough sleeping outreach and support team so that assistance can be provided to the individual at the earliest opportunity. Streetlink referrals can be made by using the Streetlink app, by visiting or by phoning 0300 500 0914.’


16.5    A Gloucester resident submitted the following question:


‘The youth of today in Gloucester have little to do especially in the evenings, which, in my opinion, is the reason why the crime rate has risen amongst the younger population of Gloucester. It is important we invest in the youth of today - why can’t the council sponsor and open a youth centre in the city centre and then gradually open these across the Gloucester area?’


16.6    The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods responded:


Firstly, we would gently challenge the narrative that the youth of Gloucester have nothing to do. 


Young people in Gloucester with the ability to pay have access to, sports, play and creative activities, and the ability to travel to them if they are not happening where they live.


Young people without money are dependent on what's happening where they live and that varies widely from areas with well-loved and well-established youth provision run by VCS e.g. Matson and White City to other areas where there isn't any provision.


We're currently working with our outstanding VCS partners to secure the funding that will enable us to recruit a group/panel of young people to lead research with peers to tell us what they want to see in the city centre and beyond. This will almost certainly be more recreational opportunities but what those are and where should be based are best determined by young people themselves.’


16.7    A Gloucester resident submitted the following question:


‘Individuals are given bans from Gloucester town centre from city safe, solace and court orders. How are the public expected to feel safe and listened to when the response given when reporting these individuals is ‘we are aware of the situation’. How can you ensure these are constantly being enforced so that the community can see change is being made and individuals are not breaking their restrictions?’


16.8    The Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods responded:


City Safe bans are enforced by CitySafe, CitySafe member shops and City Protection Officers on a regular basis.


ASB injunctions are constantly enforced by both Solace and Police, and City Protection Officers/CitySafe also play a crucial role in supporting this enforcement too, by reporting and info sharing with Solace/Police.


The City Council leads on a partnership approach called Street Aware which deals with street-based nuisance in the City Centre. Daily patrols are undertaken by various partner agencies (both enforcement and support led agencies) and information is shared amongst the partnership on a daily basis to deal with any breaches of ASB injunctions.


We are reliant on the court process to deal with breaches of injunction or criminal behaviour orders, and sometimes the court outcome does not match with people’s expectation of what the penalty for anti-social behaviour should be.


As a City Council, and through the Street Aware partnership work and through our community safety partnership, we continually review how we are working and how things could be improved. Increased communication always helps with understanding what action is currently being taken, what can legally be done and what is planned for the future. We have recently supported the Police and Crime Commissioner with a session held with local businesses to voice concerns they had about ASB in the City centre, and after giving more detail about the work we undertake on a daily basis, businesses felt much more confident that proactive work is continually happening. We would be more than happy to do similar sessions or share more information on our proactive work with anyone who gets in touch with us. Further to this we would actively encourage anyone who witnesses or is affected by ASB to report it to us so that we can support the necessary action to deal with it. ASB can be reported to the Police via 101 (or 999 in an emergency) or to Solace at or via City Council here to help on 01452 396396.’